Ready For ‘Madame President’?
Wednesday - January 24, 2007
It is truly the Year of the Woman in politics. Our state is a wonderful representation of that fact. Gov. Linda Lingle, state Senate President Colleen Hanabusa, House Minority Leader Lynn Finnegan and City Council Chair Barbara Marshall are leading the way in Hawaii. Nationally, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and (likely presidential candidate) Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton are well-received in their respected positions.
Clearly, a woman has proven to be an effective leader as a state governor, but how will gender translate into a presidential run?
A few weeks ago, I speculated that Sen. Barack Obama would have a difficult time if he were to run for president because America is not ready for a black man to rise to the nation’s highest office.
Again, I know the idealistic position is that anyone, regardless of race, age, gender or geographic origin, has a chance to become president. The reality is our country still harbors preconceptions and certain stereotypes that are difficult to overcome. Now that Obama has announced his intent to run, we’ll see for certain how America treats his candidacy.
But what of a female candidate for president? If Hillary Clinton does enter the fray of presidential politics, does she stand a chance?
I would say that her candidacy is not so much a mandate on her gender, rather her persona as a controversial former first lady married to an even more controversial president, Bill Clinton. I know many of you are grumbling because you believe this is another attack from the right wing on the left’s beloved former leader of the free world. Regardless, it is undisputed that President Clinton’s reputation along with Hillary’s bring a tremendous amount of political baggage. Rest assured, all of the scandal and controversies of the Clinton Administration will be dredged up, which may prove to be the undoing of the first serious candidate for president.
Can this be overcome? Perhaps. But we have to remember that all the affection and support for a Mrs. Clinton candidacy from the East and West coasts of America, there is a tremendous constituency in the North, Midwest and South. The bread-and-butter American will have the final say despite the coronation expected from the U.S. media and entertainment centers.
Here is a plausible scenario. Fueled by friends’and confidantes’ assurances that America is ready for nontraditional presidential candidates, could there be a Clinton-Obama ticket in 2008? It would make some sense. Obviously, Clinton and Obama are the most exciting and engaging candidates the Democrats can field. A criticism of Obama is a lack of experience. Why not unite a potentially fractious Democratic Party, let the next rising star gain experience for 2016, and concentrate on keeping Congress for the foreseeable future? Sure, it’s pure speculation, but it does make for interesting political fodder.
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